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23 June 2018

On Classical Education: Embodied Learning (part 1)

Discussing the principles of Embodied Education in the context of a Classical / Charlotte Mason education in an LDS homeschool.

This post is part of a series:

Character is the True Aim
Cultivation of Godly Character
What is a Student? 
Make Haste Slowly
Much Not Many
Ordered Affections
Repetition is the Mother of Memory
Repetition and the Habit of Attention
Embodied Learning (part 1) {This Post}
Embodied Learning (part 2)
Songs Chants and Jingles
Wonder and Curiosity
Educational Virtues
By Teaching We Learn
Classical Education is Like a Table

Dr. Perrin, in his Embodied Education lecture, starts out by talking about how education is more than just what happens in the mind: education involves our whole being, and the senses are how we take in our experiences. It is more dimensional than the "rational enterprise" that we think of,  because we are more dimensional than that: we are rational, thinking being, certainly, but we are more than just minds. Knowing that education is primarily about character, and about how we go about bridling our passions and ordering our affections, Dr. Perrin asks about environment:

Think about our classrooms. Think about your university education, you high school education: what were the hallways like? How were the windows? Did you enjoy your desks? They were "great". How about the parking lot? The whole design of our educational institutions, without us even being aware of it, are shaping our expectations, our hopes, and our ideals. Our affections. 
-Dr. Christopher Perrin, Embodied Education

That's pretty intense. What did your school experience teach you about the way that the world is supposed to work? When he asked about "my" desk, one of the things that I remembered is that I really didn't even have a desk that was mine: I sat in a different desk every hour, and each teacher changed the seating chart whenever they wanted, often without warning. It wasn't malicious; it was just the way things were; part of the mechanics of classroom management. The desks weren't designed to belong to anyone anyway: there was no storage, no way to personalize them short of defacing them, no privacy, no security. They were just hard plastic chairs, screwed into the frame that held up the writing surface, with a little wire frame underneath in case we had "extra" books. Although I have never known a single person who liked those desks well enough to put one in their home, I remember being excited when I was finally "old enough" to use that kind of desk: it was something of a milestone because only the high school students had them.

What kind of values do our educational institutions embody?
What are the values embodied in our homes?
How do the values differ?

22 June 2018

Dealing With Prereading

This past year has been the first year where my oldest had significant quantities of reading in books that I assigned based on the curriculum we're using (Ambleside Online) but that he read independently in a book that I had not previously read, or that I'd read so long ago that I couldn't remember what happened. In the not-too-distant future, I'm going to have three kids reading challenging books, and I'm going to need to be able to have intelligent conversations about these books, and also keep the household running.

My strategy is to keep a prereading notebook. It's just a regular composition notebook, which I covered first with scrapbook paper and then with contact paper. That's what I do with most of my notebooks, and they are practically indestructible: my scripture journal has been with me for five years, most weeks drug to church and back in my backpack, and it's still beautiful. Which means that I can count on this notebook, which will see lighter use, lasting nicely as well and plan on it not falling apart before my youngest is reading these same books. Also, being pretty helps me to like it, and want to use it, and that helps me to get the job done. It's remarkable how much difference it makes to have an attractive notebook, even if it's just a composition book that I got for $.50 in back to school sales at the end of summer.


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